Find God and Get a Second Birthday (Born Again!)

By Dianne Neal Matthews:

When born again as children of God, we become part of his family.

 

Image by tiverylucky / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image by tiverylucky / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Recently I celebrated my birthday. I’m certainly not the only one to celebrate that. It’s estimated that approximately eleven thousand babies are born each day in the United States alone. Estimates of the birthrate for the entire world go as high as 370,000 daily. On any given day of the year, there are thousands of people receiving cards and gifts, enjoying dinners and parties with friends, and blowing out candles on cakes.

While I annually celebrate my physical birth, I also acknowledge a much more important anniversary—my spiritual birthday. Jesus told a teacher of the law that in order to be part of God’s Kingdom, we must go through a second birth. Confused, Nicodemus asked how an old man could be born again, since he was unable to enter his mother’s womb (John 3:4). Jesus replied,

“I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.” John 3:3 (NLT)

Jesus explained that this second birth is of the Spirit, not another physical birth. When we accept Jesus as our Savior and Lord, God places his Spirit within us. We are then born again as children of God, and we become part of his family. That moment in time marks the beginning of our new, eternal life and transforms us into a brand-new creation.

Everyone who has ever lived has a birthday on which he or she received the gift of life. Believers have a second, greater birthday—the day they chose to receive the gift of eternal life. So when I’m spending time with family or friends and enjoying the blessings of the day on my birthday, I’m most grateful for the gift I received on the day I was reborn!

© Dianne Neal Matthews. Dianne is a freelance writer and the author of four daily devotional books. This material is adapted from On This Day: 365 Meditations on Holidays and Historical Events. Visit Dianne at her website, on Facebook, or on Twitter.

Enjoy the beautiful imagery and song “Born Again” in this video from Third Day:

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Find God in a Sunflower

By Dianne Neal Matthews:

Finding God in a Sunflower

Finding God in a Sunflower: Image by Dianne Neal Matthews

A simple sunflower can teach us how to find God and help us keep our focus after we come to know Him.

 

When I go for my walk each morning, I look forward to passing by the undeveloped patches of land around our subdivision. Among the dry-looking weeds and chunks of broken concrete are a few stalks of thistle with purple blooms, an occasional patch of ground cover with tiny white blooms, and wild sunflowers.

I’m always struck by how these scattered sunflowers are standing up straight and tall and pointing in the same direction: toward the early morning sun rising over the mountains in the east. I always feel as though the flowers are reminding me of a basic spiritual truth:

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:13, NIV)

In the Old Testament, God promised that He would be found by those who seek Him wholeheartedly. Later, Jesus explained,

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

We may look for God in all sorts of places, but we’ll only find Him when we look to the Son and accept the sacrifice He made on our behalf to pay the penalty for our sins.

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2)

Even after we enter into a personal relationship with God, it’s important to keep our gaze on Jesus. If we focus solely on our circumstances, we can get discouraged. If we keep looking backward on past mistakes and failures, we’ll be paralyzed by guilt and regret.

But if we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, we’ll remember that He has already blessed us with all we need to live a life of peace, purpose, and joy. As wild sunflowers show us, the best way to have a good day is to always make sure you’re following the Son.

 © Dianne Neal Matthews. Dianne is a freelance writer and the author of four daily devotional books including Designed for Devotion: A 365-Day Journey from Genesis to Revelation. Visit her at her website, on Facebook, or on Twitter.

Find God in a sunflower as you view these fun time-lapse video clips showing sunflowers moving with the sun:

 

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Find God on the 4th of July

By Dianne Neal Matthews:

While celebrating our nation’s beginning on the 4th of July, we can find God and the spiritual freedom that Jesus talked about.

 

Image: Michael Elliott /  FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image: Michael Elliott / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32 (NLT)

Parades, picnics, fireworks, and sales at the mall—we have a lot to choose from on this national holiday. But our observance doesn’t always honor the meaning of our nation’s birthday. The United States was born when the Continental Congress formally adopted the Declaration of Independence in 1776, signaling our intention to become an independent nation and break ties with Great Britain. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the festivities of the holiday and miss the chance to celebrate the hard-won freedom that we enjoy today.

Many of the Jews who listened to Jesus were so wrapped up in their pride and self-righteousness that they missed the true freedom that He offered. When Jesus said that the truth would set them free, they protested: “We are Abraham’s descendants, and we’ve never been anyone’s slaves. So how can you say that we will be set free?”

Jesus accused them of being slaves to sin. Even though they were physical descendants of Abraham, they were not his spiritual children because they refused to believe in God’s Son. These men had no sense of their bondage to sin, so they did not see how desperately they needed the freedom that the Son offered.

Jesus suffered and died to set us free from sin’s control and Satan’s grip. Once that bondage is broken, we have the freedom to follow God and to be the person He created us to be. But pride, rebellion, legalism, and compromising with sin can keep us from fully living out our freedom in Christ. Through his sacrificial death, Jesus offers us the ultimate Independence Day. But here’s the paradox: in order to experience that wonderful freedom, we have to submit and be dependent on him.

“So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.” John 8:36

Do I live in the freedom from sin’s bondage that Jesus died to secure for me?

© Dianne Neal Matthews. Dianne is a freelance writer and the author of four daily devotional books (www.DianneNealMatthews.com). This material is adapted from Drawing Closer to God: 365 Daily Meditations on Questions from Scripture (Baker Books).

Why not take a moment from your Independence Day celebration to watch this video and pray for persecuted Christians who pay a high price for their freedom in Christ?

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